Over 2,000 people and over 50 volunteers showed up at Seven Bridges Ice Arena on Saturday evening, October 24, 2015, to take part in the JJ O’Connor “Pay It Forward” Celebration.
JJ O’Connor broke his neck playing in his first hockey game of the season on October 24, 1995, resulting in him becoming an incomplete quadriplegic, meaning he is paralyzed from the neck down. Since his injury 20 years ago, people from all walks of life have rallied to JJ’s side to help him overcome this obstacle. The celebration was held to bring people together to thank them for helping him through his journey and to “PAY IT FORWARD” by raising money for three wonderful charities close to his heart – the GLASA Fire Power Soccer team, for disabled individuals in wheelchairs, disabled hockey, for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities and the Blackhawks Warriors Hockey team for injured veterans.
While the final numbers have not been tallied as of press time, the organizers have stated they exceeded their fund raising goal for the event.
JJ O’Connor released a statement shortly after the event:
“The Greatest ‘Thank You’ one can give is to ‘Pay it Forward’. That is why I want to thank everyone from all walks of life for helping me through this journey by coming to help celebrate my 20 year anniversary of my injury. Without your support I would not have been able to accomplish and experience all that I have been fortunate to over these years. I hope everyone who attended and contributed had an evening of fun enjoying the activities and helping to “Pay It Forward” to the three causes closest to my heart – by supporting our wounded veterans from the Blackhawks Warriors for their service and sacrifice to our nation and to our continued freedom, the GLASA Power Soccer team for those individuals confined to a wheelchair and disabled hockey which allows any individual, no matter their disability, the opportunity to play the great sport of hockey.”
JJ further stated, “If I did not get a chance to personally thank you on Saturday night as it was so crowded and hectic, I want you to know just your presence there or your personal donation means so much to me and gives me the strength and the will to try to continue to “Pay It Forward” for the next 20 years. Again, my sincere thanks to everyone involved!”
For those who could not make it to the “Pay It Forward” Celebration, but would like to still contribute to these three wonderful causes, please click the “Donate Now” button below.
Thanks JJ for being an inspiration to all of us…
These are just a few of the great photos from Saturday evening. Click HERE to view all the photos on AHAI’s Facebook Page. Photos courtesy of John Sullivan of photosbysully.com